The Livestock Dog Project

So you may or may not know that I lost my heart dog back in September of last year. It was right after the baby was born, and it knocked the bottom out of my world. I thought I was going to fall apart from the pain and, on top of new-Momma hormones, it was practically too much to bear.

I would have gotten another dog right away, but due to the circumstances of my chosen kind of dog not being widely available, I was forced to wait. In fact, I am still waiting... but that's another story.

Anyways, time went on, and I went from wanting another dog to never wanting to love another dog again, for fear of more hurt when they inevitably leave me far too soon.

I especially did not want a Livestock Guardian Dog, as I have had past bad experiences with Great Pyrenees in terms of being chicken killers, goat chasers, fence escapers and neighborhood terrors. But life had other plans for me and brought Merry into my life.

Here she is. Isn't she pretty?

Anyways, she arrived in February, and I was skeptical, to say the least. I liked her well enough, and gradually came to respect her as she demonstrated an exceptional work ethic and dedication to her goats and other charges. But then, she started to shed her lack of interest in me and began to demand attention. She would nose my hand, sneak up on me and lick my face when I was sat down milking and put a paw on me to make me look at her.

I shaved the knots out of her fur and spent a few minutes brushing her every morning. Before I knew it, I was giving her the odd hug here and there, and then one morning I caught myself giving her a kiss on the nose.

And then one morning last week, she came to me with a hurt paw. She limped up to me in the barn, holding her paw in the air, unable to put weight on it. Horrified, I wrapped her in a hug, checked the paw, treated the small wound - it was a clean, small slice that looked like it stung like a paper cut - and she rested her beautiful face against me, with her eyes screwed tight shut, as I did so.

I wanted to bring her in the house, rest her on the sofa until her little paw was better, and bring her small delicacies to eat on a silver platter.

But she's not a spaniel. She's a livestock dog. So once she was all treated, I had to put my dog-muffining tendencies aside, and let her go about her business. She happily went back out with her goats, still limping, and settled herself into the shade where she could watch over them without having to walk around too much.

By the next day, she was practically all better, and today you can't tell she was ever hurt. She's forgotten all about it, and I have learned yet another lesson about keeping a Livestock Dog. It's a long, heard journey for me, but Merry is an excellent teacher.